Acknowledging My Inner Demons
The other day my friend from college posted to her blog Hippy Dippy Happiness. She wrote about a yoga class she went to this week, one that was not what she intended it to be, but one that I think is far more common that anyone cares to admit. Steph went to yoga in the middle of a not-so-fabulous week. She went in with no intention of The Mean Greens (the lovely green with envy we sometimes experience) happening, but lo and behold, there they were. Her post got me thinking, because what she experienced was all too familiar to me. Steph went to a yoga class wanting to unwind, only to find herself placed behind a tall leggy blonde who, apparently, had it all together and in Stephanie’s eyes, was perfect. She then spent the remainder of class comparing herself to this girl she did not know, beating herself up over her appearance, and from there it snowballed.
I don’t think we realize that we all do this to one another, and far more often than we should. We all have our inner demons who rear their heads. We forget that the “beautiful and glowing flexible feather” Steph was envying was probably comparing herself to Steph or someone else in the room, because we are our own worst enemies.
This all got me analyzing myself, how am I in a yoga class? What are my demons?
I don’t dare consider myself an expert in yoga, but I have confidence in myself and my practice. I’ve been going for 6 or 7 years now, I’ve been through teacher training, I feel like I’ve got this yoga thing pretty well handled. Insert upbeat music here. But even having done yoga for so long and being confident in my practice, I have my moments too. And here’s a confession that I’ve never told anyone, and one that I’m not super proud to admit...
I size people up when they walk into the yoga studio. Not in the way that you’re thinking, I don’t think “she’s too fat” “they’re too old”. No, I size people up and wonder how I’ll compare to them, I wonder if they know more than me, if they’re better than me.
“That person looks legit, I wonder how long they’ve been practicing...”
“Have they mastered the pose I have been working on for years?”
“They’re not serious about yoga, they’re talking in the studio!”
I then inevitably spend more of my class concentrating on them than I should. I don’t do this because I want to be the best in class, or because I think I am the best. I think it happens because I then tell myself I’m not that good, if they’re better than me then my practice is no longer good enough. I spend more time annoyed by the fact that a person was talking before class and ruined my time to center myself than I do on how I feel in that moment. I keep eying the super fit girl who moves like water in front of me, how does she look so perfect and I look a hot mess? I keep seeing that person behind me who looks like they’re going to blow their knee out and I keep hoping the teacher will correct them. I get distracted, I get lost in the people around me.
We all do it.
I fully admit this, not with pride or acceptance of what I’m doing. But I admit it in the sense of becoming more aware of it. Steph went on to say how her envy of this girl carried into the rest of her day, then the following morning she did some self-analysis. She asked herself why she was feeling this way, why this girl who did nothing to her was able to get into her mind so deeply. So in that same suit, I’m going to ask myself the same question. Why am I doing this? Why am I hurting my own practice by concentrating on other people in the room? My answer? Because I’m not committed to the studio and I’ve lost my yoga.
I’m at a point in my practice and life where I need a “sacred place.” I need a space for my yoga and me, I need the people around me to be there for the YOGA and not the workout. I need to find teachers who I connect with. Teachers who help me forget about everyone around me. I need to find my yoga again. I need to find myself again. I think I lost my way in the move, when I left my old studio and teachers. I still have yet to find my yoga tribe in our new city, but I have also not been trying to find them. And that is entirely on me.
So maybe it’s time for me to find a better space, one where I can better myself and my practice by just being on my mat. Because even though we all have The Mean Greens sometimes, we have to asses why. Because like Steph said:
“I know that when I start to pick apart others, it means I should pause and take stock. Because the fault lies with me. And something needs righting.”
We can all use a little more self-reflection, we can all use a little more kindness and a little more acceptance. We can all try and be better. I can stop making excuses and taking the easy way to my yoga. Being content in my practice and with myself is far too important to me to be lazy or to settle.
And Steph, you’re not alone in your feelings. We all have them, and thank you for writing about them because you’ve helped me to better myself and see the changes I need to make too.